1969 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 37th 24 -hour Le Mans race, the Grand Prix d' Endurance les 37e 24 Heures du Mans, took place from 14 to June 15, 1969 held at the Circuit des 24 Heures.

  • 3.1 pilots after Nations
  • 3.2 Final ranking
  • 3.3 Only in the message list
  • 3.4 Class Winner
  • 3.5 racing data

Before the race

The most notable new racing car in the 24 -hour race in 1969 was the Porsche 917 at Le Mans, the variants with the long tail should come to use. The elongated tail allowed a high top speed, proved at first but in terms of grip to be very problematic. For testing and training drives the long-tail -917 reached on the Mulsanne straight speeds of around 400 km / h The vehicles were very restless on the road.

Nevertheless, Porsche racing director Rico Steinemann, who together with Jochen Neerpasch 908 was third in the overall standings in the previous year on a Porsche to use two 917 long-tail decided. The car with the number 12 drove Vic Elford and Richard Attwood. In the vehicle with the number 14, the two German Rolf and Kurt Ahrens Stommelen sat. A third 917 was delivered to the British privateer John Woolfe. However, most Porsche works drivers preferred the Porsche 908 Jo Siffert and Brian Redman drove a Spyder, Hans Herrmann, Gérard Larrousse, Udo Schütz and Gerhard Mitter closed long-tail coupe.

Ferrari brought two new 312P to the Sarthe. The prototype was based on the Formula 1 technology of the Ferrari 312F1. For the Le Mans Spider- bodies were replaced by a closed Berlinetta version. John Wyer continued to trust to the Ford GT40, which was indeed inferior to the Porsche and Ferrari racing car in the top speed, however, had proven over the years to be extremely stable. Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver drove this same car, had won with Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi in the year before the race.

Matra brought four works cars on the circuit, including a new MS 650 and three evolutionary stages of the MS630. Actually, the MS640 should be the new racing car for Le Mans. But Henri Pescarolo crashed hard during a test drive in April at Le Mans. The car had been at high velocity air and took off. The car was completely destroyed, and Pescarolo suffered severe burns. Since the aerodynamic problems could not be overcome, the project was stopped.

The start of the race has been brought forward to 14 clock because of the French presidential elections held on 16. Even when the organizers there was a change. The longtime Clerk of the Course Jacques mustards had placed his function. As a new race director of the former race car driver and designer Charles German was appointed, whose racing cars for many years at Le Mans at the start. As a starter served the racer Bernard Consten, who was in 1969 the Office of the President of the French motorsport federation.

The race

In training Rolf Stommelen was 917 down the fastest ever achieved in Le Mans lap with 3.22.900 in the Porsche. This time corresponded to an average of 238.976 km / h At the start of the Belgian Jacky Ickx demonstrated his displeasure with the procedure of Le Mans start by extremely slowly walked across the street and completely angurtete before he drove off. When he finally started, the last car was already gone before him in the Esses.

The death of John Woolfe

John Woolfe, who ran a team in the UK, acquired in early summer one of the new Porsche 917

Richard Attwood was originally planned as a partner for Le Mans. Attwood had a contract with John Woolfe Racing and appearances for the team sports car racing in the UK. But Attwood got a contract for work at Porsche. As a new team-mate Herbert Linge came into the team. The experienced Linge should also drive the first part of the race, but Woolfe this privilege did not miss, as his entire family was present.

Already in the first round, there was a fatal accident. Although the Woolfe Porsche 917 was only 21 starting place, but Woolfe was when Le Mans start one of the quickest and end of Les- Hunaudières straight into the top ten. Input Maison Blanche - the first few laps were driven by the top drivers in the Grand Prix pace - he was left with two wheels on the grass, lost control of the car and beat at high speed right into the guardrail. Woolfe was thrown from the car, because he had not been wearing a seat belt, which explained his perfect start. The tank of the Porsche burst and the car went up in flames. From the moving throng behind Woolfe was Chris Amon - of a Ferrari 312P with Peter Schetty shared - not avoid and crashed into the wreckage. During Amon as was unharmed by a miracle, Woolfe died at the accident site.

The race course

Although you clearly saw the smoke billowing from Woolfe accident in the pits, the race was stopped neither under - nor. In leadership was pole sitter Rolf Stommelen that settled through permanent record laps from the field. He pointed, put the potential in the Porsche 917. After almost an hour of racing a trail of smoke began the 917 but to pull behind it. At the pit stop when Stommelen handed to Ahrens, it turned out that the engine oil to plummet. Steinemann but decided that the car should continue. At each stop, always had several liters of oil can be replenished to keep the engine running. The peak in the race took over Jo Siffert, who had disappointed but after two hours of racing to note that there was no longer to think of a drive to a gearbox failure.

Nevertheless, lay in the evening four Porsche superior in leadership. Jacky Ickx was indeed driven up to the seventh rank, but he had five laps behind the Porsche of Elford and Attwood. Then, the tide began to the detriment of the work from Zuffenhausen to turn. First, the Porsche 917 was given by Elford / Attwood problems and fell back. The gearbox lost oil that flowed on the clutch and disabled the circuit. After the final failure of the Stommelen -917 Udo Schütz collided at night with teammates Larrousse. Contactor was thereby thrown out of the car, but only slightly injured.

When on Sunday the first -propelled second Rudi Lins rolled out around 11 clock before the Mulsanne with clutch failure and then had the fast Elford/Attwood-917 engine failure, was of great Porsche team nurmehr of 908 by Herrmann / Larrousse in the race. At this time, the second factory Ferrari had long since failed.

The duel for the victory

After the failure lay three hours before closing two car par: Porsche 908 by Herrmann / Larrousse and the Ford GT40 of Ickx / Oliver. After the last stop of both vehicles is one of the most exciting Le Mans finale of history, comparable only to the duel of 1933, as Tazio Nuvolari and Luigi Chinetti fought for victory, and the tight race starting developed by 2011. The 908 was on the line faster than the GT40, which was in turn in the winding passages advantage. So almost every round repeated the same game: Hans Herrmann overtook the Ford on the long straight before the Mulsanne, and Jacky Ickx countered in the curves before start and finish. As just before 14 clock Ickx Porsche ausbremste before the Ford chicane, the race seemed decided. But Charles German meant the two pilots at the finish line with highly stretched fingers that another round is to drive because the full distance in 24 hours was not yet reached. While the vehicles behind the two leaders have been checkered, Ickx and Herrmann drove again down the Mulsanne Straight. This time it was not possible to Porsche drivers to overtake Ickx, who saved 100 meters ahead to the finish.

Finishing third overall in the second Wyer GT40 came with David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood to the finish. After the race Hobbs complained vigorously at the British Motor Sport Press that an unnecessary change in his view of the brake discs had cost him the victory.

On the drive home had Jacky Ickx with his private Porsche 911 a serious road accident near Chartres, he survived unharmed.


Pilot after Nations

Final ranking

1 2 replacement car accident in training 3 engine failure in training accident in training 4 5 6 not qualified not qualified

Only in the message list

Here are the teams, drivers and vehicles that were originally registered for the competition, but it did not participate for various reasons.

Class winner

Race data

  • Reported: 109
  • Knitted Arte: 45
  • Weather during the race weekend: warm, always rain
  • Distance: 13.469 km
  • Honorary starter of the race: Bernard Consten, President of the French motorsport federation
  • Distance of the winning team: 4997.880 km
  • Winners section: 208.545 km / h
  • Pole Position: Rolf Stommelen - Porsche 917L (# 14) - 3.22.900 = 238.976 km / h
  • Fastest race lap: Vic Elford - Porsche 917L (# 12) - 3.27.200 = 234.017 km / h
  • Race series: 8th round of the World Sportscar Championship